Prince George suceeded in getting the cretan Republic to proclaim a
resolution.It was decided to make Spinalonga into a LEPER
COLONY.The Turks were told that oon Spinalonga all the lepers of Crete
(and soon all Greece ) were to be concetrated ,and there they would
spend the rest of their lives.That was the end of the Turkish
"occupation" of spinalonga.In the same year 1903 the last Turks
abandoned the Castle .
The disease LEPROCY was one of the
most feared diseases of ancients times. It was believed that leprocy
was the sign of impurity, and people kept a distance from anyone who
had the disease .Up to 1903 lepers where living into caves in Heraklio.
As you probably know the disease causes open wounds on the
body, especially on hands and legs .Often it causes the entire loss
of fingers and toes.In those days leprosy often gave large frightening
wounds in the face resulting sometimes the loss of nose and ears . The
tales of the human martyrdom of this disease must be endless.
sometimes it hit a child ,sometimes a young boy or girl . when they
caught the infection it could last two to thirty years before the
wounds were openly seen , and up to our times the disease is still
fought with difficulty if not taken under treatment very early.
A norwecian physician by the name of
ARMAUER HANSEN was studying leprosy for many years , and marked his
name is scientific when in 1873 he found the leper bacterium or
bacillus. Through the work of Armauer Hansen the world got to know
that leprosy is contagious through direct contact between a sick
person and a healthy one .That is the open wound of a leper patient
must be in intimate contact with a fresh wound , scar or scratch of
another person to cause infection.During the fifty four years of the
colony , roughly faur hundred people lived there , some of them evern
born on spinalonga- many , many died there .I have documents from this
period in my office , with names and personal data written down :
There is mentioned Maria vlakou from
the Peloponese , thirty two years old , died 1938.there is Angela
Anngirou from Thessalonica , died 1942 forty years old.Yannis Sarin
from Edesa died 1928 eighteen year old and so on ...How could they
live in this colony, how miserable were their deaths .
You may ask what kind of life they had
. Well when you visit this island you will
see where we dissembark at the big stone entrance to the Street
of Pain. you will be walking walking along the lines of shops and
small houses which were situated at the bottom of the hills , along
the coastline and near the main gate . At certain times during the day
there must have been an atmosphere of busy life - even there, with
people coming and going, chatting and may be laughing , not all, of
course , being deadly ill. some of the lepers were married to each
other , and lived together in small apartments , having a a garden
outside to tend. Perhaps they had some hens, a dog or cats.
People of this district usually called
Spinalonga "The Quiet Island" thinking both of the
peacefullness during the war when Spinalonga was like another world ,
and of the quiet endurance of personal pain.
The priests did however , sometimes
perform happier services than burrials. It happened that lepers
,like other people, fell in love with each other and got married .
during the years of the Leper colony twenty babies were born on
You may want to visit Spinalonga now.
Then you will have to take a boat from Agios Nikolaos or Elounda ., .